Severe Weather Hits East, West Coasts

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New York, NY, Feb. 15 (AP)--A combination of snow, heavy rain and thunderstorms slid across the East on Monday, kicking off killer tornadoes in Georgia while a West Coast storm caused flooding and mudslides in California.

A band of thunderstorms stretched from the Nevada line through Wyoming, bringing high winds that knocked down trees and power lines. A 38-year-old woman was killed in Bringham City, Utah, when a house awning blew down on her. In southern Idaho, a 64-year-old woman died when a tree fell onto her car, Canyon County Sheriff's officials said.

An area of low pressure moving through New England spread snow showers from Illinois across the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes to northern New England.

Northern New York and northern New England got the heaviest snowfall, with 10 inches at Lake Placid and Champlain, N.Y., and 8 in Eden, Vt. Six inches fell by midday in parts of Maine and as much as 18 inches of snow was possible by Tuesday morning. Scores of schools closed in Maine.

And along the southern edge of the snow belt, rain stretched from the central Appalachians into southern New England.

Heavy rain fell in western Pennsylvania, including 1.76 inches near Pittsburgh, delaying the start of school for one or two hours in some areas.

A cold front trailing southwestward from the low produced a line of showers and thunderstorms that reached into the South, where deadly tornadoes destroyed dozens of homes early in the day in Georgia. Storm damage also was reported in parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

By afternoon, the line of rain and thunderstorms stretched from northern Florida along the East Coast to New England and was pushing out to sea.

A potent Pacific storm system moving into California produced rain and mountain snowfall across sections of Washington and Oregon into northern and central California.

Mudslides and flooding closed some northern California highways and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reported that as many as 52,000 customers lost power during the morning as high wind blew down power lines.

California's flood-prone Russian River rose to within a foot or so of its banks before receding. Oakland got a total of 3.8 inches of rain during the weekend and San Francisco measured 3.1 inches.

San Francisco International Airport had two-hour flight delays and wind warnings were posted on bridges in the area. Crescent City, Calif., reported a wind gust to 63 mph.

Monday's temperatures around the Lower 48 states ranged from a morning low of 12 below zero at Rhinelander, Wis., to a midday reading of 82 at Miami. The lowest wind chill was 30 below zero at Minot, N.D., and the highest midday heat index was 87 at Key West, Fla.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press